When you have to break bad news, it’s never easy. What is easy: falling into one of these traps when doing it.
It comes with the territory when you’re a manager. But when you’re a company leader, like most CFOs are, you often have to deliver not-so-pleasant news to your entire organization.
That’s why it’s even more critical you know how to do it in the most painless way possible.
Mistake #1: You take too long to give it. When there’s something you know employees don’t want to hear, the temptation is to wind up a bit. You’re better off going with the Band-Aid approach — rip it off fast. Sure it’ll sting, but the more you hint around, the more anxious folks will get, and the worse your news will be received.
Mistake #2: You try to empathize. Telling someone you’re laying off “I know just how you feel” isn’t soothing — or probably even true. Statements like those tend to rile people up. One exception: Salary freezes. If everyone (yourself included) will suffer the same fate, it can be helpful for people to know that.
Mistake #3: You try to make it better. You don’t get to be the good cop and the bad cop this time. Offering small consolations may just end up aggravating the recipient of your bleak news.
Mistake #4: You talk too much. You can’t fix this (see Mistake #3). So the best thing you can do may just be to let the other person vent. Uncomfortable? Absolutely. But resist the urge to jump in so the other person can start to work through what he or she has just learned.